December 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jack Guy, Eliza Mackintosh and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Updated 1:06 a.m. ET, December 6, 2022
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6:06 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin warns US not to designate the Wagner Group a terrorist organization

From CNN's Tim Lister and Josh Pennington

PMC Wagner Centre office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on November 4.
PMC Wagner Centre office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on November 4. (Igor Russak/Reuters/FILE)

A Russian oligarch has warned the United States against designating his Wagner Group as a "terrorist" organization.

Wagner — a private military contractor — has been active in the conflict in Ukraine, and in countries across Africa and the Middle East.

Asked about the US government not following through with reported plans to designate the Wagner group as a foreign terrorist organization, Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the group, said in a statement on the company's social media page:

"When you are put on the list of terrorist organizations, then, as they say, you do what is necessary to achieve your goals. They've already put one organization on the list of terrorist organizations once, and they got a response that made them tremble."

His response came via the Telegram channel of his holding company, Concord.

He added: "As the saying goes, let sleeping dogs lie. Do not wake Wagner PMC, Americans, while it's still sleeping."

CNN reported Nov. 30, citing a US official, that the Biden administration was considering designating the Wagner Group a foreign terrorist organization amid efforts to impose costs on Russia for the Ukraine war.

No final decision has been made, the official said, and it's unclear "how far out the administration is from potentially making this designation given the laborious legal process in making this determination."

Wagner is already sanctioned by the US, but the Biden administration has its sights on labeling it a terrorist organization amid pressure — both from the Ukrainians and from Congress — to declare Russia as a state sponsor of terror due to the invasion of Ukraine and the constant attacks on the civilian population.

In his Telegram post, Progizhin said: "We have never overstepped the bounds of what is allowed, we have never oppressed civilians, we have always saved the oppressed from violence, we have never fallen into any category of terrorist organization, we have never crossed and are not going to cross the laws of morality."

CNN reporting, over the past four years, has uncovered extensive human rights abuses by Wagner in Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic. Human rights groups also allege its contractors have carried out atrocities in Mali. 

4:46 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Russia says there will be no withdrawal from Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

From Tim Lister and Darya Tarasova

A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on October 14.
A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on October 14. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The Russian Foreign Ministry appears to have dealt a blow to proposals by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to create a demilitarized and protected zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to a question from a Russian news agency about the status of the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early March.

The news agency asked: "The head of the IAEA R[afael]. Grossi said that experts are close to an acceptable agreement between Ukraine and Russia on the creation of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhya NPP (ZNPP). How would you comment on this statement? Is it possible to transfer control over ZNPP to a third party? Is the visit of the head of the IAEA R. Grossi to Russia expected?"

Zakharova responded: "There can be no talk of any withdrawal of the Zaporizhzhya NPP from Russian control or transfer of control over it to some 'third party.' The station is located on Russian territory and is fully controlled by Russia. We presume that only we are able to ensure the physical and nuclear safety of ZNPP."

There has been no response from the IAEA to the latest word from Moscow.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks during the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome on December 2.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks during the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome on December 2. (Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Last week, Director General of the IAEA Rafael Grossi said he hoped to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine on protecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant by year's end.

"My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year. I know that President Putin is following the process and I do not rule out another meeting with him soon, as well as with Ukrainian President Zelensky," Grossi said in an interview published Friday with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

He told La Repubblica: "There is a concrete proposal on securing Zaporizhzhia and important progress has been made....The two sides now agree on some basic principles. The first is that of protection: it means accepting that you don't shoot 'on' the plant and 'from' the plant. The second is the recognition that the IAEA is the only possible way forward: that was the heart of my meeting with President Putin in St. Petersburg on October 11."

"Russia is not against an agreement and the principle of protecting the plant," he added.

As for the Ukrainian side, Grossi said: "The withdrawal of armaments from the plant is what, understandably from their point of view, the Ukrainians are demanding. And it would still be part of the overall agreement."

4:15 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Zelensky says "maximum efforts" continue to restore power after latest Russian missile strikes

From CNN's Tim Lister and Maria Kostenko

(Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)
(Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that "maximum efforts" are continuing throughout Ukraine to stabilize the power grid in the wake of another wave of Russian missile attacks Monday.

Zelensky said, in his daily message, that repair work continues "in the central regions of Ukraine, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv."

"In order to stabilize the power grid, it was necessary to switch to emergency shutdowns in many regions. From Zakarpattia to Kyiv region, from Kirovohrad to Sumy and Kharkiv regions," he said.

Zelensky said several regions, including Kyiv and Odesa had extensive power outages.

Referring to the number of Russian missiles intercepted Monday, Zelensky said he was grateful to our partners for the air defense systems we are using now.

"Unfortunately, there are victims," he said. "As of this time, the list of those killed by Russian strikes today is four."

Dmytro Sakharuk, CEO of DTEK — a major energy distributor — said the overall situation was difficult but under control. "Almost all regions of Ukraine are subject to emergency blackouts. Power engineers have started to repair the damage, the work will continue overnight. We will try to return to the scheduled outages as soon as possible to stop emergency outages."

Sakharuk said on Telegram: "The most complicated situation is in Kyiv region, Kyiv city, Odesa city and northern regions of the country. This is due to both the damage and the number of consumers."

3:05 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Heavy fighting continues in corridor between Lysychansk and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, officials say

From Tim Lister

A building burns after shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on December 4.
A building burns after shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on December 4. (Yevhen Titov/AFP/Getty Images)

Fighting in eastern Ukraine continues to be concentrated in the Bakhmut area of Donetsk, according to Ukrainian officials.

Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk region military administration, said on Ukrainian television that the "Donetsk sector is the most difficult as Russians are trying to capture Bakhmut — and all settlements from Lysychansk to Bakhmut are important for them."

Lysychansk is in neighboring Luhansk region and was captured by Russian forces in June.

Hayday said that the Ukrainian military had destroyed a "huge number of occupiers' personnel and their equipment" in the village of Bilohorivka.

"Now they are trying to break through the defense line, as they plan to make an additional bridgehead to expand the offensive. Attacks are taking place there around the clock, this territory is being constantly shelled. Six people remain in the village; those are elderly people who do not want to leave. It is difficult to take out people who do not want to leave," the official said.

Amid difficult weather conditions, Hayday said that the "liberation of Luhansk region is very difficult. However, there is a positive thing. Our troops are not far from Kreminna," a town north of Lysychansk that has been occupied since the spring,

Meanwhile, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk region military administration, said that after Russian missile strikes on parts of Donetsk Monday, "emergency power outages continue. Power engineers are feeding the system with backup sources. In general, the situation is stable. After emergency shutdowns, generators are switched on."

He said the situation around Bakhmut "is extremely tense. Claims of the enemy that Bakhmut is taken and they are on the outskirts of the city are not true."

"Most of the people have evacuated from Bakhmut. There are now about 12,000 residents in Bakhmut out of 81,000 before the invasion. The enemy is trying to destroy the civilian population."

The Ukrainian military said that the center of  Bakhmut was hit — and an administrative building, a dormitory, and a residential building were damaged. 

Kyrylenko said the Russians also shelled the town of Vuhledar, as well as Kurakhove and Hostre — a kindergarten, four high-rise buildings and seven private houses were damaged.

1:58 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

4 killed by shelling in Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, regional official says 

From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Anna Chernova

Four people have been killed by Ukrainian shelling of the center of the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to the head of the Russian-backed Donetsk administration.

"As a result of the shelling of central areas of Donetsk tonight, four people were killed. Four civilians were injured to varying degrees of severity," Alexei Kulemzin said on Telegram.

Russian state news agency RIA/Novosti reported that "Ukrainian troops shelled the center of Donetsk, the fire was aimed on residential buildings."

The shelling targeted int Voroshilovsky district according to Kulemzin. The shelling allegedly struck the Church of Nativity of Christ, where the building has “partially collapsed," he said.

Earlier the Russian Investigative Committee released a statement saying they will “establish all the circumstances of the incident and the persons involved in the commission of crimes.”

It's the second consecutive night that Donetsk has come under fire.

Earlier Monday, RIA Novosti reported that two buildings caught fire in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic after strikes by Ukrainian forces.

The Ukrainian military has not yet confirmed or commented on the attack. Donetsk has been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. 

CNN's Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh contributed reporting to this post.

1:12 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Satellite imagery appears to show damage at Russian air base

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

ImageSat International published images showing what appears to be the aftermath of an explosion at the Dyagilevo air base in Russia.
ImageSat International published images showing what appears to be the aftermath of an explosion at the Dyagilevo air base in Russia. (ImageSat International)

The Israeli satellite imagery company ImageSat International has published images showing what appears to be the aftermath of an explosion at the Dyagilevo air base in Russia.

"On an image from 05.12.2022, burn marks and objects are seen near a Tu-22M aircraft that was probably damaged," it said. ISI made the images available to CNN.

Some background: The base is one of two which the Russian Defense Ministry says were attacked by Ukrainian drones on Monday.

In a statement carried on the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the Ministry said the attacks were "in the Saratov and Ryazan regions" but the "Ukrainian drones flying at low altitude" were intercepted by air defenses.

Ukraine has not confirmed that it attacked either airfield. Recent satellite imagery shows a substantial number of Russian strategic bombers at the Engels airbase in Saratov.

CNN's Tim Lister and Darya Tarasova contributed reporting to this post.

1:02 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Putin signs law further banning protests from taking place in more public areas in Russia

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Russian law enforcement officers detain a person during a rally in Moscow on September 24.
Russian law enforcement officers detain a person during a rally in Moscow on September 24. (Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin made it more difficult to stage protests in the country by signing a new law which bans any kind of rally from taking place at a range of locations.

Protests will be banned in areas like, government buildings, universities, schools, anywhere near churches, airports and ports, railway stations and vital infrastructure, state news agency RIA said Monday.

Previously, rallies were forbidden from taking place near presidential residences, courts, prisons and emergency operational services.

Regional authorities can additionally introduce further bans on demonstrations based on “historical, cultural, and other objective characteristics of the subject." 

Putin signed almost 50 laws on Monday according to RIA.

12:37 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

Biden administration downplays long-term economic impact of Russian oil price cap

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The Biden administration downplayed concerns that a price cap on Russian oil could backfire and hurt the global economy Monday, reiterating that the US reserves the right to adjust the price going forward as the cap begins to be implemented. 

On Friday, the European Union's 27 member states capped Russian oil at $60 a barrel, days before G7 and Australia begin to implement a price cap, set to start Monday. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday that Moscow will “not recognize any price caps” and warned that it was “a step towards destabilizing the world energy market.”

Global crude prices were up 2.6% on Monday as investors watched nervously for Russia’s next move.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby dismissed long-term effects of the price cap.

“We don’t believe that it’s going to have any impact long-term on global oil prices,” Kirby told reporters.

Kirby said the US believes that “this cap will lock in a discount on Russian oil,” adding that the US “fully” supports the $60 price cap announced last week and “stand behind it.”

Kirby suggested that the price cap will allow countries to “bargain for steeper discounts on Russian oil” but was “not intended to eliminate Russian oil from the market.”

“We believe it’s going to help limit Mr. Putin’s ability to profiteer off the oil market. It’s also, you know, adjustable. It doesn’t mean we can’t come back and revisit it if we need to,” he said.

12:46 p.m. ET, December 5, 2022

CCTV footage appears to show explosion in Russian city of Engels

From CNN’s Sarah Dean, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Anna Chernova

CCTV footage appears to show an explosion lighting up the sky, geolocated by CNN to the Russian city of Engels, on Monday morning.
CCTV footage appears to show an explosion lighting up the sky, geolocated by CNN to the Russian city of Engels, on Monday morning. (From Twitter)

CCTV footage geolocated by CNN to the Russian city of Engels, where a Russian air base is located, appears to show an explosion lighting up the sky at around 6 a.m. on Monday morning.

Engels is a port city on the Volga River located in Saratov Oblast, in western Russia, around 500 miles (more than 800 kilometers) southeast of Moscow. The CCTV footage shared on social media was recorded approximately 3.7 miles (nearly 6 kilometers) away from where the Engels-2 airfield is located, a strategic bomber airbase.

Saratov region Gov. Roman Busargin, reassured residents on Telegram that no civilian infrastructure was damaged but said “information about incidents at military facilities is being checked by law enforcement agencies.”

He acknowledged information about “about a loud bang and a burst in Engels in the early morning” was spreading on social networks and the media.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was asked about this incident and another explosion at a Russian airfield near the city of Ryazan, around 200 kilometers (about 124 miles) southeast of Moscow, during a regular call with journalists on Monday.

“I do not have the exact information, I only saw media reports, but I do not have the exact details and I cannot comment. I recommend contacting the Defense Ministry,” Peskov said when asked about this. He said “of course” President Vladimir Putin had been informed.

CNN had contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.

Later Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukraine used drones to attack two Russian military airfields on Monday morning.

In a statement carried on the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the ministry said the attacks were "in the Saratov and Ryazan regions" but had been intercepted by air defenses.

Russian state media also reported three people were killed and six injured after a fuel truck exploded at the Russian airfield near the city of Ryazan. The explosion occurred at an aircraft parking lot at the airfield, emergency services told state news agency TASS on Monday.

Pro-Russian bloggers have said that the incidents were likely an act of sabotage from Ukraine.

Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for the Command of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, shared a social media report of a “blast at the Engels airfield” on Facebook but made no claim of responsibility. “And who did it?,” he wrote.

Later on national television Ihnat referenced the blasts while announcing the launch of a new Russian missile attack towards Ukraine, saying: “We have information that today there were blasts at the Engels airfield. And immediately after that there was a commotion at this airfield.

“Perhaps it is not connected with this, but still we see that strategic bombers have taken off and the first wave of missiles was already launched. There may be several of them [waves], they may use several waves of attacks to disperse the missiles throughout Ukraine and to confuse the actions of our air defense.”